Moving Day and Home Tour

After 3 months in a hotel with a mobile baby and 2 cats, we finally have a move in date!  In 4 short days, we will be moving into our new place and reuniting with all of our belongings.  Esme will finally get to sleep in her crib, and we will finally get to sleep on our beloved mattress.  I am so excited.  The house hunting in Naples was more stressful and required much more time than we anticipated.  We chose a home in the area of downtown Naples that we wanted to live, although it’s not as full of character as many others that we saw.  It was tough to balance pros and cons.

We were shown 3 story mansions, penthouse lofts with ocean views and rooftop terraces, historic apartments with two story bedrooms, and so much more.  We ended up with one that was quite boring in comparison, and I’m honestly struggling with how to make it feel like a beautiful, organized home.  However, what it lacked in beauty, it made up for in convenience.  This home includes 2 parking spots, including one INSIDE the building, an elevator (amazing how many places required me to climb several stories with a baby and stroller), and is a couple blocks from several gyms, grocery stores, and shops.  Here’s a little tour of it empty:


Do you see the shelf above the door?  The entire apartment is midcentury architecture and has ledges below the ceiling.  I plan on putting books on the entry ledge to cover the wires.  I’m also considering painting the back of the doors, which are about 5 inches of thick metal.


This is the end of the entry hallway that leads to the open dining/ family room.  The wood paneling is original to the apartment and matches the doors and baseboards throughout. I can picture this home super hip with the right Midcentury furniture; however, my furniture and design preference leans more traditional so it will be a challenge to meld my furnishings with the rest of the home.


This is the living room/ dining room area.  It will also be the play space for Esme.  Do you see the ledge that goes around the room right under the ceiling level?  It drives me NUTS.  The ceilings are SO HIGH, but the ledge makes the ceilings feel much lower in person.  It also forces the curtains to be hung directly over the windows, which in turn makes the windows feel much smaller.  The left window is a door out to a balcony that expands the entire length of the apartment.  I’m excited to plant some flowers out there!

There are TWO full bathrooms in the apartment, which I’m extremely excited about!  We even have a bathtub!!! I’ve noticed a trend in America of people removing their bathtubs in favor of showers, and that trend has hit Italy as well.  I’ll never understand it, but finding a home with a large bathtub was difficult!  The guest bath (left) is fully tiled in lilac tiles, which I have mentioned here, and the master bathroom floor to ceiling pale blue.  Neither would have been my choice, but I’m excited for find some solutions to make them feel more “me.”


Technically, it’s a four bedroom apartment with this being one “bedroom.”  The bright room to the back end of it is the laundry room.  We might keep the wardrobes in here and use it for storage, or we are considering turning it into a play space and overflow area for guests.  The other bedrooms are also small so I can’t decide which one I want to use as Esme’s nursery.

Both of these rooms use space really oddly.  Why did they build walls in front of windows?  Honestly, I saw this same issue is several homes we toured, and it never fails to perplex me.  The middle picture shows the slightly large bedroom that also has access to the attic for storage.  Additionally, it has a door to a small tiled “closet” (3rd picture) on the right (you can see the door to it in the middle picture if you squint).  This is the only room in the home with a closet.  Traditionally, Italian homes don’t have closets so this home comes with 6 armoires (none of which are my style so I’ll need to be creative with them too).

The master bedroom is tough to photograph since it’s quite small too, but it has a doorway out to the balcony.  The armoires are in the entry of the room, and I’m not sure how I’m going to make them work with my decor.  I absolutely LOVE wood (real wood), but I despise laminate made to look like wood.  Despise is a strong word, yet it’s so accurate.  I would have preferred just plain white laminate to the faux wood, but “you get what you get.”

*I didn’t share the kitchen since the landlord is installing a new kitchen about a month after we move in.  It will be a bit of a surprise for me since I was originally told it would be a white kitchen, but it appears to be faux wood from more recent pictures shared by the landlord.  Either way, after living in a hotel I’m just thrilled to have a kitchen to prepare proper meals for my family.

I’d love any insight or ideas you can share to help me make this place feel like home to us!  I’m still torn on our decision to choose location over beauty, although I’m sure once we move in I will appreciate it much more.  It’s just so tough to find everything you want in a market with few rentals.  I’m so looking forward to moving day though!


Panthella Table Lamp Lookalikes

I’ve been searching for table lamps for our new apartment.  When we sold our DC home, the buyers purchased all of our lamps in the house… and there were TONS because I am obsessed with lamps.  Had we been staying in America, I wouldn’t have sold them.  However, I didn’t want to buy a converter for every outlet here in Italy so I was fine with purchasing inexpensive ones here.  Now, I’m on the search for ones that are stylish and affordable.

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I’ve always loved the look of Verner Panton’s Panthella lamps.  These lamps were designed in 1971 with the aim to create a lamp in which the base as well as the shade would act as a reflector.  The light source is hidden under a hemispheric shade with a white trumpet-like base.

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Panthella Lamp

Unfortunately, at $774 per lamp it is WELLLLLL outside of my current budget.  Luckily, I’ve recently found a few similar lamps that feel similarly modern without the price tag.  First, IKEA has a version called the NYMÅNE, which only costs $49.99.  It lacks the same ethereal glow of the original version, but it’s lines are still modern.

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Target also has a similar lamp in brass that is only $54.99.  This won’t work for me here in Italy, but it’s still beautiful.  Actually, I’ve seen an almost identical one in one of the “dollar stores” here in Naples.  It was 22 Euro and a bit smaller than this one.

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I definitely prefer the look of the original hemisphere-like lamp, but I love seeing ones in my price range that I can use in our new home.

Embracing a colorful bathroom with a new rug

After 2 months of house hunting, waiting, and living in a hotel, we’re FINALLY preparing to move into our new apartment in Italy!  I don’t love moving, but I do love making each new place feel like home.  After living in our tiny DC apartment, I’m rejoicing because this apartment has two full bathrooms, and THAT. IS. A. DREAM.  We even have a BATHTUB in this new apartment, and I am squealing with joy!  I am a bubble bath person and had to use a fold up bathtub in our DC condo’s shower stall every time I wanted to soak.  I wish I was kidding.  A very pregnant me used to lug out this folding contraption, fill it up, squeeze my large body into it, and then have to hoist myself out and tilt it to drain it.  It was an ordeal.  My point being, a bathtub is a LUXURY, and I intend to spend a large portion of my free time soaking in that luxury!

The downside is these bathrooms are not my jam, decor-wise.  Both bathroom feature monochromatic floor to ceiling tile: one blue and one lilac.  Have you seen those vintage bathrooms that have pink tile, pink sinks, pink toilets, etc?  I kind of like those vintage bathrooms, if I’m being honest, but these bathrooms were recently remodeled and lack that vintage charm.


The bathtub is in the lilac bathroom, and if I were a lilac person it would be heavenly.  Unfortunately, I am not a purple person, any shade of purple.  I wish I was, I’ve tried to be, but it’s not my jam.  Since I’m renting and can’t remodel the bathrooms (plus I want that money for traveling… I’m in Italy after all!), I decided to embrace the room and add a rug that pulls in a few accent colors to make the lilac feel less dominating.  My shower curtain is plain white so it won’t add any additional colors.  Unfortunately, I currently only have one picture of this room that is actually a screenshot from a video I quickly took of the property to remember it.



In person, the lilac tile feels very overwhelming.  I promise.  It’s not just in my head.  Anyways, these are the rugs I’ve gathered so far.


These are all low pile rugs that should be easy to spot clean and hang dry.  I also already own a small rug that might work in this space.  I bought this World Market outdoor rug last year.  It’s made of plastic so it will be fine getting wet in a bathroom, but I worry it won’t add much warmth and character to the room.  Additionally, it doesn’t really add any pop of color.

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I’d love your opinions and input on this.  Any favorites or recommendations?  Any tips on how to make the lilac feel less dominating?

5 Best Baby Products for a Traveling Minimalist

As an interior decor blogger, I don’t normally discuss baby products despite the topic being directly related to our home.  As someone that gets energy from the feeling of order in her surroundings, I absolutely did not want my home to feel like the inside of a Babies R’ Us after having children.  I feel like I read hundreds of “best baby products” blog posts when I was pregnant, but it was hard for me to find one directed at minimalists.  The first 8 months of my daughter’s life we lived in a smallish condo in downtown Washington D.C., and I didn’t want to clutter it with a ton of baby products.  We also knew that we wanted to travel so we wanted products that could be used for a variety of situations.  After 10 months in the “parenting trenches”, these are the baby products that I absolutely love and would buy again.

  1. Baby Stroller: Baby Jogger City Mini Stroller ($279.99, but we bought ours on Zulilly for $150)

I’ve heard mixed reviews on this stroller, but we absolutely love it.  Our home in D.C. required us to walk up or down a flight of stairs every time we wanted to go out with the stroller, so a lightweight, easy-to-close stroller was a necessity.  The one-handed close has been incredibly useful for us in both the city (going up and down those stairs) and at the airport when gate-checking the stroller with a squirmy infant in our arms.  It only weights 18 pounds so it wasn’t too difficult for me to close up and carry a few weeks after my c-section.  Additionally, I appreciated that the back folds down almost completely flat, making it safe for newborns.  We purchased the Graco carseat adapters so that we could click our infant seat onto the top (fabulous for street parking and zipping through the airport).  We also bought the tray attachment since we use the stroller as a makeshift high chair when we are out traveling or at a restaurant without high chairs.  My main gripe about this stroller is that the basket is smaller than I’d prefer.  Living in a city with a baby means that the stroller basket is also the shopping basket so I wish that Baby Jogger could have found a way to put a much larger basket under the stroller.  Despite this flaw, I love that its heavy duty wheels hold up beautifully to the cobblestone streets of Italy, and I can steer it easily with one hand if I happen to be holding a baby and pushing around groceries that are heaped up INSIDE my stroller.

2. Baby Car Seat: Graco SnugRide Click Connect 35 Car Seat ($142.87, but we purchased ours on sale for $120)

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A lot of people have very strong opinions about car seats, and I completely understand why: car accidents are incredibly common, and these contraptions save lives.  That being said, I knew that my daughter would not use a “bucket seat” for a long time so I didn’t want to splurge on an expensive one.  I also knew that all car seats sold in the US have to pass the same safety tests.  After reading numerous car seat reviews, we decided that it was the right seat for us based on its weight.  At only 7.5 pounds, this car seat is one of the lightest on the market.  When you have to park several blocks away from your home in the city or carry this through a crowded airplane (It IS safe for use on airplanes.), we appreciated that it was much lighter than other models.  Being inexpensive and lightweight DOES have its drawbacks though, this car seat does feel less “plush” than other models and rethreading the harness straps is a bit less convenient than other models.  We found installation to be a breeze though, and I love how simple it is to install without the base for taxi rides while traveling.

3.  “Diaper Bag”: Skip Hop Pronto Signature Portable Changing Mat ($29.99)

As a hoarding wannabe minimalist, I knew I was not to be trusted with a large diaper bag.  I would stuff it full of alllllll the things and never be able to find anything I actually need.  When I saw my friend carrying around this cute, little clutch for her infant, I knew it was exactly what I needed.  I have used this thing EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  When we travel, this is the only item I carry on the plane for my daughter (plus a spare onesie in my purse).  I can also clip it onto my stroller and use it as my purse, as well.  I stick hand sanitizer, my keys, money, and my ID in the outer zipper.  Inside, it has a section for wipes, another zipper section for diapers (I can fit 6 in there!) and diaper cream, and a foldout, wipeable changing pad with a built-in pillow.  As a germaphobe I love that this thing fits perfects in the airplane bathroom for changing, and I even use it around our home as the changing table.  It’s WAY easier to wipe off than our fabric-covered changing pad.

4. Travel Crib: Graco Pack N Play Nimble Nook ($62.99)

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I’m obsessed with this travel crib!  It’s half the size of standard pack n plays so it takes up much less space.  We kept it in our bedroom when our daughter was a newborn, and she slept in the bassinet portion of it.  In the bassinet mode, it also has a vibration feature to soothe young babies although we didn’t use it.  It also has wheels and is narrow enough to be rolled through doorways so we’d roll it around the house to keep an eye on her.  When our daughter was 5 weeks old, we took our first mini-vacation with her, and this crib was perfect for the hotel room.  When we moved to Italy, we flew with this (it’s lighter and smaller folded than a standard pack n play), and it’s been great in our hotel.  We even fill it with plastic balls to create a ball pit for our daughter!  I’ll add that the sleeping pad for this model is difficult to clean, but luckily mini crib sheets will fit this perfectly.  We bought a waterproof, quilted mini crib sheet that solves that issue easily.

5. High Chair: Ingenuity Baby Base 2-in-1 Seat, $44.99

I’m embarrassed to admit that we splurged a bit on a much more expensive high chair.  When we moved to Italy, someone gave me this seat to use at the hotel, and it is SO much better!  I wish I’d had this seat from the very beginning.  Skip the Bumbo and the Sit-Me-Up.  This seat supports under the baby’s entire thigh to help early sitters just practice sitting.  It straps onto your existing chairs, and the blue infant insert can be removed to turn it into a booster for older kids.  The tray can even be stored inside the seat when not in use!  Cleaning this seat is ridiculously easy.  We either wipe it off with a wet rag or pull out the infant insert and wash it off in the sink.

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DIY Kitchen Island Ideas

We have been house hunting (here, here, and here) for a while in Southern Italy, and we finally found a home (really an apartment).  We’re probably crazy for the place that we chose since our budget (given to us by my husband’s company) allowed us to get a large home on the beach or a penthouse with a huge rooftop and water view.  Instead, we went way under budget and chose a place that was deep in the city and had no view at all.  It also needs some sprucing up!  However, living in DC taught us that location was EVERYTHING when it came to daily life.  I can walk to five grocery stores, numerous restaurants and shops, two gyms, a park, and three “mommy and me” classes from this apartment!  Anyways, on to important things… like kitchens.


The kitchen in our new place is rough to say the least.  It’s a long, narrow space with cabinets along one wall, no counter space for prep, and a kitchen table in the middle of the room.  Currently, the refrigerator is stuck like a sore thumb beside some cabinets randomly.  The kitchen is also not all on one level, since there is a weird step up to the wall of cabinets.

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Since we tend to eat dinner in our dining room, we decided to forgo the kitchen table and try to turn the space into an “American style” kitchen.   We’d like to add some cabinets to the far wall of the kitchen and move the refrigerator to that space.  We’re not interested in spending a lot of money since this is a rental, so we’ll most likely be repurposing these cabinets from our home in DC.  We’d also like to build a DIY kitchen island (with STORAGE!) for the center of the room with pieces that can be taken apart and reused in future homes.  We’re going to push it up against the step so that the edge of it can be used for additional prep space when working in the kitchen.  We’d also like to add 2-3 bar stools so people can sit at the island and help cook or hang out.

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In America, I had access to some crazy good deals in thrift stores and Craigslist.  Unfortunately, prices on used items are pretty high here in Italy so I’m relying on IKEA for less expensive materials for my DIY Kitchen Island. One of the major obstacles is that I need a very specific island height, and Ikea furniture is built to very standard sizes.  Standard kitchen cabinets are 36″ tall, although many professionals recommend a height of 42″ for islands that are used primarily for seating.  Our island will be placed just beside the step that goes up to the oven and sink, so a 36″ height island would be even shorter when used as a work surface from the platform.  Therefore, I’m trying to find IKEA pieces that are closer to 42″ tall. Here are the pieces that I’m debating currently.

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I was going to put the pieces either side by side and add a large countertop with an overhang so that people could sit on the opposite side of the cabinets OR put them back to back (making a two sided island) with an overhang on the side so that the seating would be next to the cabinets.  Allow me to share my incredibly professional and technical “photoshopping” of these two ideas with you.

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As you see, I’ll also need legs for both ideas to hold up the countertop edges.  I’m currently leaning towards the Billy bookcase solution since it is the only solution that is close to my preferred height, and I don’t have saws at my disposal to built a platform to lift the other cabinets up to the required height.  Another obstacle is finding a countertop on a budget.  Because I’m online shopping currently, I’m sticking to IKEA as a resource, but I might actually branch out to Leroy Merlin, our Italian version of Home Depot or Lowe’s.

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SÄLJAN countertop (25 5/8″ wide & 74″/98″ long)

If this weren’t a rental, I’d splurge on a proper and custom countertop (as well as a proper island).  However, I’m all about the cheapest find possible for this place.  I considered using plywood to create my own countertop, but I don’t have my saws here in Italy with me so I need to use what is already available.  Luckily, IKEA has super inexpensive countertops, like the Säljan, pictured above.  It comes in just white, faux white marble, faux black marble and more.  I discovered that putting two Billy bookcases side by side and topped with the Säljan countertop would be the right length and the right amount of overhang for seats.  I’m definitely leaning in that direction!  I’d love to hear other ideas!!

We Found a House…

House hunting in Italy has been an exciting adventure: touring new neighborhoods and towns and deciding which are would be best for our family.  We considered moving out into the “suburbs,” specifically the coastal town of Pozzuoli, but we decided that city life makes us happy and fills us with energy.  We know that once Esme gets older, she might need a yard and a cul-de-sac full of kids her age; however, for the time being she’s content with windows and a couple objects to bang together so we opted to stay in downtown Naples.  The neighborhoods of Naples vary in cleanliness, safety, and cost.  As was the case in Washington DC, my husband actually works outside of the city so we wanted a section of the city that was easy to commute in and out of.  We are very fortunate that my husband’s job provides us with a very generous living stipend to cover the cost of rent and utilities.  Because of this stipend, we decided to house hunt in a very safe and affluent section of the city called Vomero.  Vomero has a huge pedestrian walking area with shops, numerous grocery stores, several gyms, a castle, numerous “mommy and me” type classes, and more.  The downside of this neighborhood is that there are not many places available for rent.  Additionally, Vomero is not directly on the coast so the prime location means sacrificing water views (or any view).

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We saw 4 apartments in Vomero and narrowed it down to our top 2.  We called them “the big place” and “the small place.”  Creative, I know.  “The big place” was located in an 18th century palazzo.  It was a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom, fully renovated home with stunning original woodwork and incredibly high ceilings.  It had 2 balconies, and the best part: one of the bedrooms was actually 2 stories.  We absolutely adored this home and met several times with the owner and her family.  They even gave Esme an adorable Italian-speaking teddy bear.  “The small place” was located 4 blocks away from “the big place” and was near a Crossfit gym, as well as a 24 hour access gym.  “The small place” was 3 bedrooms (plus a storage room), 2 bathrooms, and had a Midcentury vibe (although much of the character had been stripped in an effort to make it more renter-friendly).  It had a narrow front balcony, dedicated laundry room, and attic space for storage.

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Just the way that I’m talking about the two places makes it quite clear which one we preferred: the bigger one.  Unfortunately, it needed electrical work that could not be completed until October, and we wouldn’t be able to move in until November.  Time moves at a much different pace in Southern Italy.  We considered just waiting for it, but seeing as we arrived in Italy in June…hotel life with a mobile baby is not ideal.  Due to this setback, we ended up choosing “the small place.”  We are currently working on our contract with the landlord, and it will probably be 4-6 weeks until we can move in.  Again, time moves at a very different pace.  We’re looking forward to having our own space again though.  Our hearts are a little sad about not getting the other spot (it would’ve been perfect for guests), but we’re optimistic that we can make this place feel beautiful and homey in time.

House Hunting in Southern Italy: Pozzuoli

We decided to expand our home search out to the ‘burbs of Naples, specifically to the seaside town of Pozzuoli.  In 194 BC Pozzuoli was a Roman colony named Puteoli (from the Latin puteo meaning “to stink”).  Pozzuoli happens to lie in the center of the Campi Flegrei (a large volcanic area to the west of Naples, Italy).  One nearby dormant volcano Solfatara still emits jets of steam with a sulfurous fumes, hence the name.  No worries!  The modern town, itself, does not stink.  Instead, it has the vibe of a coastal town with shops and restaurants aplenty.


As one would predict from the age of the city, Pozzuoli also has a multitude of historical sites, including Italy’s 3rd largest amphitheater (Amphitheatrum Flavium) and the Temple of Serapis (actually an old Roman marketplace).


Many of the homes in Pozzuoli that we saw had yards, rooftop terraces, and even a second outdoor kitchen.  The nice part about expanding to the ‘burbs is the addition of space.  So much more space!


This particular home is up on the mountainside, overlooking Pozzuoli.  We really wanted a walkable area, and we found it was quite difficult to find a 3 bedroom home in the busier downtown section of the city.


We adored many of the homes that we saw in this beautiful city, but we didn’t need a ton of space.  Instead, we wanted a walkable location so that we didn’t need to pull the car out at all on the weekend.  That was one of our favorite things about living in DC!


Had we been able to find a place in central Pozzuoli that was walkable to the main train stop, we probably would have chosen this city as our home.  We loved the history of it, as well as the coastal vibe.  Mainly though, we loved that there was so much nature for our tiny girl to explore.  Pozzuoli has lakes for fishing in volcanic craters,  a port with ferries to Capri and Ischia, and beaches, of course!

House Hunting in Southern Italy: Posillipo

We’ve been searching for the perfect home for our family in the Campagna region, and today’s home is in Posillipo, a peninsula that juts into the sea separating the bay of Naples from Pozzouli.  The view from Posillipo looks out over the Bay of Naples, Mount Vesuvius, and the island of Capri.

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Posillipo has been home to many of the wealthy in Naples for centuries, and that fact is obvious in many of the homes we saw in this area.  We discovered that many of the homes had gorgeous water views and opulent interiors.


Normally when one rents in Italy, the home comes completely empty, and renters add their own kitchen, remodel bathrooms, repaint, install updated heating and cooling systems, and personalize the home to their standards.  This landlord is familiar with Americans though, so he is willing to repaint, update, and change out finishes to our liking.



Depending on the location in Posillipo, it can be less walkable than homes in other parts of Naples.  Since Posillipo is nestled into a hill, it can be tricky to commute to from Mark’s work, as well as tricky to walk to activities for Esme and I.


The main issue with this home and many of the historic homes in this area is the kitchen.  The kitchens are in the back of the home and incredibly small with a tiny bedroom connected to it. We discovered that the tiny room is the maid’s quarters and the kitchens are small because they are not for use of the homeowner but for their cook.


The home that I’m sharing today has opened up the kitchen to the rest of the home (slightly), and the landlord would like to completely remodel the kitchen before the next renter.


We still haven’t found “the one,” but we enjoy checking out what is available in the area. I can’t wait to share more of our house hunting tours!

House Hunting in Southern Italy: Chiaia

We are in the process of house hunting in the Campagna region of Southern Italy.  We are deciding between living in the major city of Naples (the birthplace of pizza and 3rd largest city in Italy) or one of the many suburban areas surrounding it.  Our personal “must have” list includes: a 3 bedroom apartment or single family home with 2 parking spots (preferably in a garage), a dishwasher, and a bath tub in a safe, walkable area.


Our first home that I’m sharing is near the top of our price range, but it’s in the poshest section of Naples called Chiaia.  Chiaia is the best of city living: home to upscale shops, clean, classy, filled with excellent restaurants and green grocers, and close to the sea.  In fact, in the Neopolitan dialect Chiaia means “beach.”  In the 16th century, Via Chiaia was opened to connect Piazza Plebiscito to the coast.


For history lovers, the area is home to Castel dell’Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples, and Parco Vergiliano a Piedrigrotta in Mergellina, supposedly the place where the Roman poet Virgil was buried.  It is a 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom apartment with parking AND a sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea.  Also, check out those ceilings!  So high! And so beautiful!


Tile is standard in Italian homes, and I’ve been hoarding Persian carpets for years!  Perfect for protecting our little one as she toddles about.  The bedrooms are ample in size, and one even has a walk-in closet (which is very rare in Italy).  I also appreciate aesthetically that the bedrooms have wood flooring.


The bathrooms are plenty large and covered in tile.  I’ll certainly become a pro at cleaning grout.  Check out that giant bathtub though!  We didn’t have a bath tub in our DC condo, just a shower, and it was the main thing we missed about downtown city living!  I cannot wait to soak in a bubble bath again!

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The home also includes a dedicated laundry room with a washer and dryer and a kitchen with a pizza oven (and dishwasher).  I’m not a huge fan of the tile in the kitchen, but it does have marble countertops.  I would definitely bring in additional storage though, since the cabinets are small and older.2

Although I generally prefer homes with very modern finishes (modern is usually synonymous with NEW and DOESNT NEED REPAIRED), I do appreciate the beauty of this home.  I’ve also spoken to the previous tenants (also American), and they raved about how wonderful the landlord was (BIG BONUS).  I’ll finish up this listing though with two of my favorite things about this home: the CHARACTER.  This green built-in and those arches… OH MY!!!

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Packing to Move Abroad

I’ve moved abroad twice before this move to Italy: once to Japan and once to Spain.  Both moves were under very different circumstances: I made one move as a newly wed and the other as a single student.  Moving with a baby during this trip has been a very different experience, but I want to share some of the knowledge that I’ve gathered from each move.  Packing, in general, sucks.  It really does.  It’s not at all my favorite thing to do, but doing it with intention will make an overseas move much less stressful.  Each move, I’ve had to make 2 suitcases last between 2-6 months.  I’ve discovered that is incredibly easy to do, unless seasons change in that time period and/ or your child grows quickly out of clothing.  That being said, it gives me a perfect excuse to get to go shopping in my host country!


Luggage Tips:  I have 3 pieces of luggage that I rely on for traveling (and moving) abroad.  I always bring a small backpack as my carry on.  This one from Ikea (under $5) folds down into a tiny pouch when not in use and has an interior pocket for organization.  I use it as my purse, diaper bag, reusable shopping bag, and everything in between!  I find it difficult to walk through an airport (or city) with 2 large rolling suitcases, so I prefer to have one hardshell spinner suitcase and one 70+ liter hiking backpack to improve maneuverability.  When I first moved abroad (to Spain as a student), I brought a rolling duffle bag that had a detachable backpack on one end.  That was probably the absolute BEST invention ever.  I can’t find them anywhere now, but I’d prefer that to a hardshell spinner suitcase any day.

Living abroad has the added benefit of MANY opportunities to travel, and I like having the above options for mini trips, as well.  I tend to use my hiking backpack for most trips since rolling a suitcase on cobblestone streets or up and down flights of stairs is a pain, but if I know that I’ll be traveling to highly accessible areas I bring the spinner suitcase.


As far as clothing choices, that depends highly on personal style, season, country, activities, etc.  For this trip, I chose to pack super minimally since I knew I’d need to bring a lot of infant items.  I packed: a pair of jeans, a pair of longer jean shorts, and shorter jeans shorts to mix and match with a variety of tops and to pull over my swimsuit since it’s summertime.  I also brought a few cotton dresses (in case I wanted to look a bit more pulled together), 2 sets of pajamas, a summer hat, and some workout clothing.  SUPER minimal.  I also only packed 2 pairs of shoes: tennis shoes and brown leather sandals.  I had read in advance that Italians don’t wear flip-flops, except at the beach, so I have been using my dressier sandals for everything.


The majority of my packing was dedicated to my daughter since she grows so quickly.  I packed her current size, one size up, and I actually mailed myself 2 sizes up (since I already had so much clothing in that size- thanks to hand-me-downs).  I also packed her toiletries since she has sensitive skin, and I wasn’t sure if the brands that have worked for her would be available immediately upon arrival.  We have 2-3 months until the rest of our clothing and furniture arrives, which my husband’s company shipped for us.  That means we have up to 2-3 months to find a home or apartment for rent so that we have a place for our household goods to be delivered!


I’ll be sharing some of the homes we tour for rent here, but I also can answer any specific questions about packing and moving abroad.  I’m obviously leaving out so many steps in the process, like applying for our visas, getting our passports renewed and a baby passport (which is the cutest thing ever), packing up our household goods (and organizing everything), getting our cats shipped abroad (and getting their international health certificates), deciding what should stay in storage and what should ship, packing a “plane bag” for the baby (because she does NOT sleep on planes despite having her own seat), etc.  If you are going through the process currently and feeling overwhelmed, take a breath.  We felt overwhelmed with this move more than any other. In the end, everything will fall into place (even if it happens at the very last moment).  Most of all, just think of all the adventures that you’ll be having once you get to your destination.  It will be worth it!